CFTC Names James McDonald as its New Enforcement Chief

The head of enforcement role has been left vacant following the departure of Aitan Goelman in February.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Acting Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo, who Donald Trump selected as his pick for CFTC chief, announced today that James McDonald, a former assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has been named the new Director of the agency’s Division of Enforcement (DOE). James will step into his new role on April 10, 2017, which will last for a period of three years.

The role of head of enforcement has been vacant following the departure of Aitan Goelman, who left the agency on February 3, 2017. The position was filled on an interim basis by Vince McGonagle, who following the appointment of Mr. McDonald will return to his previous role in the same department. Mr. McGonagle, a longtime veteran at the CFTC, was previously Director of the Division of Market Oversight.

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Mr. McGonagle will inherit a huge docket at the trading commission, both of current cases and promising investigations. The agency, for example, is investigating some of the world’s biggest banks for potential manipulation of foreign currencies. It is also wrapping up a series of cases against banks suspected of manipulating a benchmark interest rate known as the Libor, a crackdown that has already led to settlements with several banking giants.

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The federal prosecutor from Manhattan would run enforcement for an agency whose jurisdiction dramatically expanded with new laws passed by Congress after the 2008 financial crisis. CFTC’s chairman Giancarlo recently said that the agency needs to revamp its mission and make regulations less costly for businesses.

McDonald has worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York since 2014, most recently in the public corruption unit.

“I’m excited to join the CFTC at this time in its history, when vigorous enforcement is more important than ever,” Mr. McDonald said. “I am thankful to Acting Chairman Giancarlo for giving me this opportunity, and to Vince McGonagle and Aitan Goelman whose work we are committed to continuing, and building on, in the coming years. I look forward to working alongside the tremendous staff in the Division to help the CFTC protect the integrity of the derivatives, futures, and swaps markets during this important time.”

The CFTC’s acting Chairman Giancarlo added: “Jamie McDonald’s appointment as the Director of the Enforcement Division is a signal to those who may seek to cheat or manipulate U.S. markets that there will be no pause, no let up and no relaxation in the CFTC’s mission to enforce the law and punish wrongdoing. Mr. McDonald is an accomplished Federal prosecutor and skilled agent of American law enforcement, and I am pleased he will take over this important job.”

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